Nine students at Farmwell Station Middle School in Ashburn allegedly brought marijuana-laced brownies to school Wednesday morning and are now part of an ongoing investigation by the Loudoun County sheriff’s office, authorities confirmed Friday.

 Loudoun sheriff’s office spokeswoman Liz Mills said that the students reportedly made the brownies earlier in the week and brought them to school Wednesday, where four girls and five boys – all eighth-grade students at the school – are believed to have tried some.

Loudoun County public schools notified the the sheriff’s office’s School Resource Unit on Thursday evening of the “possible narcotics violation,” Mills said.

 After that notification, rumors spread rapidly through the Loudoun community via social media, with some claiming that more than 20 students had been expelled from the school. Loudoun public schools responded Thursday night with a statement by Farmwell Station Middle School Principal Sherryl Loya, which was delivered to families and staff at Farmwell Station using the school system’s ConnectEd phone message system. The statement was also posted to the Loudoun County public schools Facebook page.

 “There was a great deal of social media activity tonight stating that up to 20 students have been expelled from Farmwell Station for an alleged offense. This is not true,” the statement read. “Our school system's disciplinary system does not impose instant punishments for any offense. When severe punishment, such as a suspension or expulsion, is imposed, it is done only after a thorough investigation at the school and review at the central office. I'm asking you please do not contribute to the misinformation being spread. Thank you.”

Wayde Byard, Loudoun schools spokesman, said the process of reviewing the incident and determining the appropriate punishments for the students involved will take time. Expulsion is not out of the question, “but that is a worst-case scenario,” he said.

“We’re still speaking to students and parents, corroborating stories, trying to figure out what happened,” he said. “The first thing we want [the students] to do is recognize that they made a mistake ... we’re not going to throw people away, we’re not going to ruin their academic records. There will be discipline involved, and it will be a hard lesson.”

Byard said that schools officials hoped that the incident would start “a larger dialogue in the community” and encourage greater awareness of what kids are exposed to.

“Parents should look at what’s going on at home, and with the child’s friends, and with the parents of the child’s friends,” Byard said. “This doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And if this starts a larger dialogue, that’s good. That will be a positive that comes out of it.”

The incident at Farmwell Station followed another recent episode in which a group of students at J. Lunsford Middle School in Chantilly were found to be under the influence of alcohol.

Despite the flurry of media attention following that incident, schools officials maintained that Loudoun’s overall rate of alcohol and drug-related incidents in public schools has stayed fairly low.

This post has been updated since it was first published.